Good Advice Tried and Tested

Cathay Pacific B777 business class

29/11/2013

CHECK-IN I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 3 at 1900 for the 2040 departure on CX256 to Hong Kong. Online check in meant I went to Zone B at Terminal 3 for baggage drop off. There was no queue. I was through security in five minutes.

THE LOUNGE Cathay has two lounges at Heathrow T3 – business and first class. The easiest way of finding them is to head for Zone C.

The lounge is minimalist and has floor-to-ceiling windows facing the apron. The business class lounge is to the right, and the first class lounge to the left. Both lounges share washrooms and showers.

I went to the First Class lounge – there are several seating areas with views. There’s a good choice of cold and warm food, free wifi, and a large tv.

BOARDING I was one of the first onto the aircraft, through the business and first class channel. Once at my seat I was offered a choice of water, orange juice or champagne, but no offer of newspapers or to hang my jacket.

THE SEAT It’s a three-class configuration with no first class, so on entering you are straight into business, which starts at the front with row 11. Business class has two cabins, arranged 1-2-1 (A-DG-K). All seats have aisle access. Both washrooms are on the left and one is quite large.

In the second cabin, the seats are identical to those in the first cabin, although 11D and 11G have their IFE screens in the bulkhead in front, while all other IFE screens are in the seat in front and at an angle. You have to press a release button to view them once swung out.

All seats are angled slightly. The middle seats (D-G) have been cleverly designed to help avoid eye contact with your neighbour.

The seat has a real sense of space to it, both in terms of how wide it is and the airiness of the design. 

The seat reclines to meet a footrest. All the controls for the seat and the IFE are in a convenient position to one side at shoulder height, along with a reading light – which has two levels of brightness, in-seat power (UK plug) and USB jacks.

There is a large storage space beneath where the table appears. The table itself is good and firm, and slides out from the armrest, so you don’t have to lift it up into a vertical position to put it away – a nice touch.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? Drinks and food are served from the front row. Since service was attentive but a little slow, there is the risk of some noise. You might want to avoid row 19 at the back of the first cabin, which is just A and K (rows 13 and 14 are omitted), as the seats are close to the galley and have no windows.

THE FLIGHT We pushed away on time, but there was then a slight delay before we began to taxi, so we didn’t take off until 2110. We were given a smart Agnes B amenity bag with a striped design containing Jurlique products. 

The IFE system is extremely good. The touchscreen is crystal sharp, the noise-cancelling headphones excellent. Cathay has a good range of Hong Kong films, the only downside is the adverts that have to be watched before each film. 

The drinks service reached me at 2200 – a little slow. Similarly, food orders were not taken until 2230. The salad was without taste, the crayfish terrine also bland. I asked for some salt and pepper, as there was none on the tray, and this was brought but I’d finished by then. A further long delay for the main course – perhaps 15-20 minutes – so it wasn’t very hot by the time it got to me at the back of the first cabin (18G). There were four main course choices, and my Szechuanese chicken with yu huang chilli sauce, steamed rice and Shanghainese pak choy with garlic was small but tasty. After the cheese trolley, the meal service finally ended at midnight. 

Thanks to a preset control, the seat is easy to get into a bed position. I reclined, fastened the seatbelt over a thick duvet and slept for five hours. The cabin was quite warm (fine by me), and I found the seat comfortable, although it does have a ridge where the seat back has reclined to be flush with the seat cushion.

After my sleep, I got an apple from the kitchen area where there were snacks available and asked for a coffee, which came as an extremely hot and tasty latte. 

At around one hour and 50 minutes to go, breakfast service began. On offer were fruits, smoothies, yogurt and cereal, with omelette, vegetarian crepes or seafood congee as main.

ARRIVAL The captain came on 30 minutes before landing to give an arrival time of 1535, some 45 minutes early. On the IFE screen we were told the arrival gate number 48, baggage carousel reclaim 12.

VERDICT This business class seat is one of the best. It has everything — comfort, direct access to the aisle, in-seat power for working and reclines to a roomy bed.

I think the only way things could be improved is if there was a bit more of the personal touch to the service. I was addressed by name when I was served my food, but there was no attempt at interaction by the cabin crew with any of the passengers. The near three-hour meal service was not particularly organised or efficient.